Only hours after the election, Tom Dorr, USDA Undersecretary for Rural Development tendered his resignation. Agriculture Secretary Ed Schafer announced the resignation, effective December 1, 2008, during a press conference on Wednesday.
"Tom Dorr has been a transformational leader for USDA Rural Development," Schafer said. "As the transition to a new Administration continues in the months ahead, senior leaders will be moving on, but Under Secretary Dorr's contributions to USDA and rural America will be felt for many years to come."
Washington observers expect President-elect Obama's transition team to move quickly on naming its political appointees. In addition to USDA, the top picks for the Environmental Protection Agency, the Food and Drug Administration, and the Department of Interior will be closely watched by the U.S. agricultural industry.
While at USDA Dorr led the effort to revitalize USDA Rural Development's Multi-Family Housing Program and to successfully resolve longstanding litigation which threatened the program with potentially billions of dollars in losses. He led USDA's pathbreaking rural broadband program launch (authorized initially in 2002) which is essential to ensuring universal access to affordable broadband even in low-density rural areas, and he instigated an ongoing initiative to enhance USDA Rural Development's marketing and outreach efforts and streamline office structure and program delivery systems.
"Rural America is changing, and Tom Dorr recognized eight years ago that USDA Rural Development must change with it to meet new challenges and opportunities," Schafer said. "Thanks to his vision and leadership, USDA Rural Development is a stronger, streamlined, modernized, and effective agency positioned to continue its long tradition of service to rural America."